Odessa businessman donates to Odessa College

Posted on May 14, 2019

Odessa businessman Austin Keith and his wife, Michelle, have donated $100,000 toward learning lab renovations at Odessa College’s Learning Resources Center in the Murry H. Fly Building.

An oversized check was presented at the library Thursday.

Executive Director of Advancement Jacqui Gore thanked the Keiths for everything they have done for Odessa College over the years. Austin Keith is the president and owner of Pinkie’s liquor stores.

Gore said the $100,000 contribution to the Odessa College Foundation goes toward the learning lab renovations in the learning resources center at OC and toward renovations that took place about a year and a half ago.

The renovations were part of Vision 2015, which has included many renovations and expansions on campus, Gore said. The learning lab has now been named the Keith Learning Lab. The signage will go above the glass doors.

Over the past eight to 10 years, Gore said the college has undergone a transformation. She said this couldn’t have been accomplished without community leaders and champions who went to Austin to speak on OC’s behalf to gain support of legislators and the community to pass the bond election.

“We had a handful of volunteers and community leaders who really walked alongside (OC President) Dr. (Gregory) Williams and the administrative staff through this process and one of those is Austin Keith. He has served for many years on the Odessa College Foundation board. He stays very in tune to what is happening here at Odessa College and definitely what is happening here in our community. He has continued to share with me how important Odessa College is to this community,” Gore said.

Williams said Keith has always offered encouragement and support to the college.

Austin Keith said he and his wife were humbled and just wanted everyone to know that they are excited about what goes on in the community. He added that it was part of paying it forward.

“You can feel the energy and the momentum that’s going on at Odessa College. You’re a light and a beacon for our community here,” Keith said.

Eight years ago, or possibly longer, Keith said the state legislature wanted to cut funding for OC and other community colleges. But the community came together and passed the bond election and now everyone can see the growth.

Also, winning the Aspen Prize Rising Star award twice shows the phenomenal change, Austin Keith said.

Austin Keith said he had been to meetings at the Saulsbury Center and other buildings and was impressed. He noted that several prominent families in Odessa have really helped.

“… It’s dynamic and I really think that both institutions that we have here complement each other, but I really like the fact that a young person can come here and two years get an associate degree and come out with a trade and a job and not be in big debt,” Austin Keith said.